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Gulls on the beachBeaches are special places for me. When I was a child, my family spent a week at the beach every summer, and I loved long walks, looking for sand dollars and exploring caves. As I grew up, the coast meant time to get away by myself and talk to God. Now I love to spend time with my husband walking along the sea. And I usually have my camera at hand to catch the various moods of the beach. We just returned from an anniversary celebration in Seaside, Oregon—a lovely time despite rain and a windstorm that doused the lights for a while.

A few of the things I love about the beach in winter:

  1. The ever-changing patterns of the clouds. Clouds change constantly at the beach. White and fluffy one moment, dark and threatening the next. Never the same, but always fun to watch—although I prefer to watch storm clouds from the window of my motel room.clouds 2
  2. Sun through the clouds. Oregon beaches specialize in clouds, and many days are gray and drizzly. So it can be a wondrous delight when the sun slices through the clouds, highlighting the waves and turning wet sand into glitter.sun through clouds
  3. Reflections on the sand. When the sky turns briefly blue, the wet sand reflects its color, reflects the jutting ocean cliffs, even reflects the people walking peacefully down the strand.couple on beach
  4. Small things of beauty. When I can take my eyes off the clouds and focus on the sand, small jewels appear. Rippling patterns in the sand, bright agates, delicate shells. Splendor in miniature.crab shell
  5. Wide open spaces. Low tide pulls the water out, exposing broad expanses of land. The beach stretches out like a wide prairie of sand, seeming to go on forever.DSC00548
  6. Beach grass. As the ever-present sea wind blows, tough ocean grasses sway and bend, rippling in constant movement, an echo to the changing sky, companion of the rolling waves.beach grass
  7. Sea birds. Above my head, the gulls twist and glide with the wind, their raucous calls blending with the ocean’s roar. When I was young, I would pull out my bird book, frantically trying to separate them into species, to determine whether one might be a new addition to my life list. Now I watch quietly, less concerned with their identity and more appreciative of their talent for riding the breeze.Sea gull
  8. Serenity. Winter beaches stretch out wide and free, lacking the crowds of summer. My footprints often fall on virgin sand, as I drink in the open space, the sea sounds, the fresh salt air. I still talk to God in the peace of the beach. Sometimes I even sing praises, my off-key voice thankfully drowned out by the pounding surf. Always I feel peace fill my soul, as the breeze blows away my worries and fears, and the pulse of the ocean brings a peace beyond understanding.beach clouds

What do you love most about the beach?

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Goodreads Giveaway: NEW

Picture Imperfect, a novel for girls ages 8-12

Picture Imperfect, a novel for girls ages 8-12

Goodreads Giveaway for Picture Imperfect: Win an autographed copy of this middle grade novel! A girl, a cat, a camera, an annoying aunt with something to hide. Fun, mystery, and good values! Enter now! (And please share with your friends. The more, the merrier!)

NEW GIVEAWAY: March 11-20, 2016

Enter HERE.

Upper McCord Creek Falls

Upper McCord Creek Falls

Early autumn is a perfect time for hiking in the Pacific Northwest. The bugs have died down, the weather has cooled, but the sun is still shining. And thus my husband, Gary, and I headed out Tuesday to enjoy the outdoors. Looking through 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan, I noticed two short (2-3 mile) hikes in the Columbia Gorge, so close to each other that they were together in one entry. Wahclella Falls and Elowah Falls. Despite our proximity to the Columbia Gorge, we’d never hiked either trail. Time to check them out!Columbia Gorge

Elowah Falls, Columbia GorgeThe first one as we drove east through the Gorge (Oregon side) was Elowah Falls–with a bonus falls available (Upper McCord Creek) with a little extra uphill walking. The trail headed gently uphill, becoming a bit steeper on the Upper McCord part. It passed through shady forest, unfortunately close enough to hear the freeway sounds for much of the way, but finally heading back into the woods a bit. The McCord part opened up to a nice view of the Columbia River with Mt. Adams in the distance (I was thankful for the railing here, as the dropoff was steep.) before arriving at a nice, though rather small, waterfall. We explored a bit, then headed back toward Elowah Falls. As we neared the cascade, we could feel the temperature cool, until we came out in the rocky area below the falls, a fine place to rest and enjoy the view.

Elowah Falls hitting the rocks

Elowah Falls hitting the rocks

Elowah Falls itself tumbled down from the cliff like a long, feathery tail, its pattern constantly changing, fascinating to watch.

Wahclella Falls, Columbia Gorge

Wahclella Falls

We left Elowah Falls, deciding to drive the three miles or so to Wahclella Falls and see what it was like. We were glad we did. The Wahclella Falls trail began as a gentle stroll along lovely Tanner Creek. We watched a pair of dippers zipping from rock to rock in the stream, whistling merrily. Sunlight sparkled on the creek, but the path was shady most of the way, a good thing as the afternoon was warming up. The path climbed higher above the creek before dropping back down to the falls area. Which was beautiful. Wahclella Falls poured into a deep pool, which emptied into rambling Tanner Creek. We sat by the falls and ate our PBJ sandwiches, then wandered on–with many photo breaks along the way. Gary had to explore a little cave near the river–apparently it went back quite some ways, but wasn’t high enough for easy exploration. We meandered on through the rocky little valley, across the creek and back up to the main trail. It is a hike I certainly plan to return to–a little gem I am so glad we discovered.

Cave near Wahclella Falls

Cave near Wahclella Falls

Amazing that we can live in one area for so many years and yet miss out on nearby places of beauty. Why had we never thought to hike those trails before? It’s a reminder to me to watch for beauty all around, for even the familiar places we take for granted may be wondrous if we keep our eyes and hearts open.

September Feelings

Cumulus clouds September.

As we edge toward autumn, change is in the air. The heat of summer slowly dies away, replaced by crisp, foggy mornings and cool breezes. Clouds roll in, sometimes huge, fluffy white mountains, other times layers of gray filled with rain.blackberry jelly and green beans

Leaves begin to turn color. We harvest the garden—plucking the last few ears of corn, a few fat cucumbers hiding under the leaves, red and golden cherry tomatoes, and, of course, zucchini, which is not yet ready to call it quits. Apples redden on the tree. The pantry shelves hold jars of beans, the freezer bags of corn. Blackberry jam and jelly await winter breakfasts. Our garden has done well.

Liberty applesA hush settles over the street, as children head off to school. I drink in the quiet and let it settle into my soul. September. Even the sound of it is soft and flowing, like the afternoon breeze as it rustles through the treetops. Like a treasure you hold, not in your hands, but in your heart.September sunset

And in the evening we stroll down the street as darkness falls earlier and the sun sets in a bright sky.

Discovery

Journey of discovery

Learning new skills: my first attempt at using Canva.com to combine words and images.

 

Maya Angelou

I stopped at the Post Office to mail a copy of my book (Picture Imperfect) and figured I should pick up a few stamps.

“Any of authors?” I asked the clerk.

She pointed out the Maya Angelou forever stamps. That sounded good to me, so I took a sheet. Only on the way out did I actually read what was on the stamp.

“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”

Sometimes I feel I should have all the answers before I speak, or before I write. But Maya Angelou has a better idea. Sing your song, write your book, paint your picture, or just live whatever life you feel called to live. And do it with joy like a robin singing its morning song. Because the song is the answer.

Campsite at Kalaloch Campground Our first camping trip of the year—and extra-special because our son who lives in Japan would be coming. In fact, it was planned especially for him. We had done a lot of camping and hiking when he was young, taking two-week camping trips every September (one of the advantages of homeschooling) to places like British Columbia, the California redwoods, Yellowstone Park, and a wide range of sites in Oregon and Washington. He had also camped a lot in Boy Scouts. But now, with trips home mainly taking place around Christmas, he missed spending time in the great outdoors.False Lily-of-the-Valley

We did a lot of planning, trying to find a place that would be dry in May, a bit of a challenge in the Pacific Northwest. However, as the time drew near, forecasts were mostly positive, so we set our sights on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. Kalaloch Campground—right on the Pacific Ocean—sounded good for our first stop, once we learned how to pronounce it (Kah-lay-lock). And it turned out to be a good choice.

Vine Maple, KalalochWe pulled into the campground mid-afternoon Saturday, relieved to find many campsites still open (First come, first served can be scary at a popular campground.). The beachside places were all filled, but we found a lovely, large site with plenty of room for the trailer and a tent for our son and a local friend who had come along. Lots of privacy and a Middle Earth feel to it. Surely elves lurked nearby. Sunshine filtered through twisting, mossy branches onto ferns and wildflowers as we set up our camp. A fresh sea breeze blew enticingly, and a feeling of peace settled into my soul.Kalaloch Beach

Soon we were down on the beach, drawn by the surf’s roar. The wind blew us along the rock-strewn, sandy beach, causing us to zip up sweatshirts and pull up hoods, despite the sunshine. We walked and we talked and we enjoyed being out in nature, away from computers and work and all those other things that crowd our lives. Just the four of us and the mighty ocean. We admired agates, watched gulls glide by overhead, noted the scraggly pines above the beach, all bent in the same direction.

Gulls and bent trees, KalalochThe ocean is so big, its motion ever-changing yet ever the same. I feel connected to eternity by the ocean, a tiny part of something great and wonderful. To share that with a son I rarely get to see was the best Mother’s Day gift possible.Sunset, Kalaloch Beach

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